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A Chicken Stew with Lovely Riesling & Winners of the Mark Bittman iPhone App

I never need an excuse to uncork a bottle of Riesling.

It’s one of my favorite varietals because it goes splendidly with sweet-spicy-tangy Asian dishes, boasts a relatively low alcohol percentage compared to many of today’s fruit-bomb wines, and is downright easy to quaff.

But if I ever did need a reason to break open a bottle of this lovely, flowery, aromatic white, this dish would do the trick.

“Chicken in Riesling” is a recipe (see below) from the dearly departed Gourmet magazine.

Think of it as a quicker, lighter version of the classic coq qu vin, which is fortified with red wine and typically takes far longer than the hour needed to make this Riesling-based one.

I think of it as the ultimate in satisfying chicken stews. It’s got a comforting quality about it, what with the whole, little red potatoes (I left them unpeeled, too) and large chunks of carrots bobbing in it. But it also has a slightly luxurious nature from the mere 1/2 cup of creme fraiche or heavy cream that you stir in just before serving.

The result is a pot of tender chicken in a pool of brothy, creamy sauce.

And best yet?

Even after adding the Riesling to the pot, there’s still plenty left in the bottle to enjoy a glass or two with this dinner.

And now, without further adieu, the six winners of the Mark Bittman “How to Cook Everything” iPhone app:

As you recall, for this contest, I asked readers to name the one thing they wished this gifted New York Times food writer, known for his no-nonsense approach to cooking, could make easier in their life. Here are the winners who had the best responses:

ZenChef, who wrote: “I wish Mark Bittman would design an app that would deploy arms and legs on my iphone and turn it into a cooking robot that’s able to cook all these delicious recipes for me (and cleans the dishes afterward <-very important). Now that’s not to much to ask, is it?”

CG the Foodie, who wrote: “I wish Mark Bittman could teach me how to make a gourmet meal using a hotel coffeemaker and a blow dryer (because those are often our only heating elements!)”

Susan Kim, who wrote:  “I actually own Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything” cookbook. For many years, it guided me through many cooking frenzies. However, with a one-year-old baby roaming my kitchen now, my cooking bible has fought its unfortunate fate. She has managed to rip the pages out, gnaw on the binding, and drool all over the print, making it illegible. In fact, she has done this with most of my cookbooks. I would love Mark’s iPhone application because it would be super handy when I’m at the supermarket trying to figure out what ingredients I need; what mother (or any busy person) has time to carefully write down ingredients and quantites? Plus, I can look things up anytime, anywhere — like when I’m sitting silently in my parked car trying not to wake my baby up. Best of all, it’s neither rippable nor edible!”

VanillaSugar, who wrote: “A 3D Mark Bittman would be nice eh? one that wouldn’t so much do the work for you, but alert you when you’re doing it wrong. ha!”

Moe Rubenzahl, who wrote, “I want a Bittman Travel Button. Press it and it tells me where to go, what to wear, and when to be there. It takes care of all the crazy rules, goofy pricing, and secret handshakes you need for low-stress travel. It decides when and how to avoid crowds and get the best deals and shows me the cool things to do and see. Oh, and it packs my bags and lets me take my Swiss Army Knife on the plane. Plane? What plane? The Bittman Button has a built-in transporter.”

Trissa, who wrote: “I’d love it if Mark Bittman could make it easier for me to ask my hubby to take out the trash or wash the dishes!”


Chicken in Riesling

(serves 4)

1 whole chicken (about 3 1/2 pound), backbone discarded and chicken cut French style into 8 pieces (see cooks’ note, below)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

4 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), finely chopped (2 cups)

2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot

4 medium carrots, halved diagonally

1 cup dry white wine (preferably Alsatian Riesling)

1 1/2 pound small (2-inch) red potatoes

2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/2 cup crème fraîche or heavy cream

Fresh lemon juice to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in middle.

Pat chicken dry and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and a rounded 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Heat oil with 1 tablespoon butter in a wide 3 1/2- to 5-quart heavy ovenproof pot over medium-high heat until foam subsides, then brown chicken in 2 batches, turning once, about 10 minutes total per batch. Transfer to a plate.

Meanwhile, wash leeks and pat dry.

Pour off fat from pot, then cook leeks, shallot, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in remaining 2 tablespoons butter, covered, over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until leeks are pale golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Add chicken, skin sides up, with any juices from plate, carrots, and wine and boil until liquid is reduced by half, 3 to 4 minutes. Cover pot and braise chicken in oven until cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes.

While chicken braises, peel potatoes, then generously cover with cold water in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan and add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer until potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain in a colander, then return to saucepan. Add parsley and shake to coat.

Stir crème fraîche into chicken mixture and season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice, then add potatoes.

Cooks’ note: A chicken cut French style yields 2 breast halves with wings attached, halved crosswise for a total of 4 breast pieces, 2 drumsticks, and 2 thighs. If you don’t want to cut up a whole chicken, you can use 3 pounds chicken parts.

From Gourmet magazine, March 2008

More: Another Great Chicken Stew Recipe — John Besh’s “Chanterelles, Chicken, and Dumplings”

More: Thomas Keller’s “Crispy Braised Chicken Thighs with Olives, Lemon and Fennel”

More: Gerald Hirigoyen’s “Chicken Thighs with Spicy Basque Ketchup”